ECF now 32% contained, I-84 reopens after tree removal

Upcoming rain is supposed to help

A plume of smoke from back burning in the Eagle Creek Fire on September 14, 2017. (KOIN)
A plume of smoke from back burning in the Eagle Creek Fire on September 14, 2017. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As of Saturday morning, the Eagle Creek Fire was 45,579 acres and 32% contained, according to officials.

Firefighter control efforts on the outer perimeter of the fire would continue to be the focus Saturday. Active fire is mainly expected on the southern and western edges of the fire with dry conditions and east, northeast winds.

I-84 remains closed nearly two week after the Eagle Creek Fire broke out and damaged dozens of trees along the highway. (KOIN)
I-84 remains closed nearly two week after the Eagle Creek Fire broke out and damaged dozens of trees along the highway. (KOIN)

Winds are expected to start shifting southwest Saturday evening into Sunday as a cold front moves into the area, bringing cloudy conditions, a chance of precipitation, higher humidity and lower temperatures.

Lt. Damon Simmons said they currently had more than 1,000 firefighters working on the fire. While he said there was some growth on the south side, he did say “everything is looking good” on the western edge.

Weather — specifically rain — will play a big role in containing the fire in the upcoming week.

“We’re expected to get some rain and that’s supposed to really help the situation,” Deputy Joel Ives said.

However, officials said they didn’t want too much rain as the Gorge is prone to landslides and mudslides.

Steve Sobieszczyk with U.S. Geological Service said landslides are not predictable. You can know where they may happen, but not know when.

“The concern is high,” Sobieszczyk said. “That threat will continue throughout the winter.”

A burn area rehab team will be arriving sometime in the upcoming days to examine the Gorge, which will be closed for awhile. Officials couldn’t say if the area would be opened by next spring or by next fall as they have a lot of assessment to do before deeming the area safe.

The westbound lanes of I-84 reopened Thursday night between Hood River and Troutdale after ODOT crews determined it was no longer threatened by the fire. The westbound lanes were closed for a few hours Saturday morning while crews removed trees, but have since reopened.

Eastbound lanes are still closed and will be until further notice.

The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office said Friday that all Level 3 evacuation orders were being downgraded to Level 2.

Level 2 Be Set evacuation orders are in effect in the areas of:
Dodson
Warrendale
Bridal Veil
East Historic Columbia River Highway: East of Alex Barr Road, addresses in the 43800 block and higher
Larch Mountain Road: East of Brower Road, addresses in the 45800 block and higher
All of Brower Road including Toll Road
E Haines Road, addresses in the 43800 block and higher
Latourell
Larch Mountain Road: West of Brower Road, addresses in the 45700 block and lower — including Salzman Road and Alder Meadows
E Haines Road, addresses in the 43700 block and lower (toward Larch Mountain Road)
Corbett
Springdale
Troutdale, addresses east of the Sandy River

Portland's foggy, ashy air quality as of 5:10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017. (KOIN)
Portland’s foggy, ashy air quality from the top of the KOIN Tower as of 5:10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017. (KOIN)

Hood River County still had Level 3 evacuations. Click here for the latest evacuation levels.

Poor air quality

The fires across the state have had an impact on the local air quality. As of 5:45 p.m., Portland had the worst air quality in the country, staying at a “very unhealthy” level throughout the day, according to Air Now.